Revisiting my initial question;

Revisiting my question I posed a year ago with some back ground info to how I got to where I am today and where I believe I am going with  a clearer focus; This initial question was stated as:

'Investigate the relationship between people and plants'

Over this last year my research and thoughts have taken me into the Cabinet of Curiosities, Museoligical display strategies, Collections and their approaches, Still life approaches, challenged my own literal approach to this and looked at many artist who simply used plant material in their practice or series of works.

So far I have stayed on the surface of all of this, which appears to have made me skid off in a few directions. So looking at my last 2 main bodies of work, for July and January I can see variations within the question I posed:

3 light backgroundsMy series of jars for the July seminar were very much a response to the Cabinet of Curiosities and a Collectors approach. This work held a curiosity, as much of the plant material within these jars took on different visual imagery beyond the plant itself. Bits were obvious and bits were questionable as to what they were.

The words talked about preservation of plants, through reflection, time and distortion. Did it also talk about genetic engineering? Or questioned what are we holding onto? What are we preserving? The past, present or future?

Garden traces; early settlers and migrantsThe Cyanotype inspired work for January seminar visually also talked about preservation and how certain plants grow together, the artist statement made an attempt at this, but failed to coherently do this. As bits also spoke about value, and how weeds travel and move around. The words did not support the presented work, once i had installed the work and revisited it a few times I realized this. Unfortunately too late to change it before the formal assessment, but at least I could recognize it during my assessment.

Both works have elements of our relationship with plants:

  • the desire to preserve
  • the obsession to collect
  • how we aid the dispersal of undesirable/bad/weedy plants
  • Loss of knowledge of plant uses
  • Our taming of places and how we do bits well and bits not
  • and many other minor distractions within both artist statements.

(Note to read both these artist statements fro the July 2013 work and January 2014 works, click onto the July & Jan archives to find the relevant entries)

Since January this year I realized that I had achieved another resolved body of work, which at this stage I could not squeeze anything else out off. So the need to go back to what should drive my masters was important, but ended up being de-railed through confusion.

Suggestions were made for me to try a different process besides print and photography. As the brain was already struggling with my 'question', this added more to what was already very murky 'soup'. It created a period of great indecision, the desire to pick up the camera or play with the press became moments of guilt and not pleasure.

I tried to escape this feeling by going outside, being back out amongst the world that inspires me by digging up plants. In the end a few were ground up, in frustration of not knowing where my art was at.  The work I presented recently certainly were not ground up weeds, but was not far off it.

While writing my previous blog, April seminar & self critique notes, I was alerted more strongly to the fact that I needed to sit down and re-think the question, to drill down into this, would create a more focussed approach.

During this Easter weekend, with the help from my husband as a sounding board and some research this is what I have come up with:

My muse or inspiration are plants - this is where or what drives me and creates wonder in my world -  It is my relationship, my connection.

The layer below that is - A fascination with plants growing in the 'wrong place'. How we see these plants and our responses to them, as these greatly vary to where and how we encounter them.(In the January seminar I called the places we encounter them, the in-between spaces).

To put these into a statement/question that I believe will create a better focus for me:

"I am inspired by plants, more precisely plants that appear to growing in the ‘wrong’ place. - Why do we have such a contrasting response with plants that are growing in ‘wrong’ place?"

To achieve this I have broken this down into aspects I need to research and delve into deeper:

1. What is a contrasting response? 2. How do you define plants growing in the wrong place? a. What is the wrong place? b. Who decides this wrong place? 3. What other artists have used these plants in their work/practice? a. How have these artist depicted these plants? b. Who were these artist influenced by? 4. Based on my own research, what is my opinion of the ‘wrong place’ and are these plants labelled/viewed correctly? This feels like a good place to step off from, a much clearer position for my art to 'hang it's hat on'. This blog is not meant to be a confessional space and this entry feels mostly as a confession of me skidding of my track. In amongst this I do believe I have tried to show the questioning I have gone through over the last few days to get back onto my track and create a much clearer path ahead.  

Posted by Elle Anderson

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